In the philosophy of early Indian Buddhist schools, “the destruction of delusion” is a subject that is extremely difficult to understand. This work attempts to explicate the Sarvāstivādin theory of the destruction of delusion by investigating the Sarvāstivādin construct of afflictions, mind possessing dispositions (sānuśaya-citta), and methods used to destroy delusions.
This work first discusses the Sarvāstivādin’s basic stance on afflictions (kleśa) and dispositions (anuśaya), then explains why dispositions are the foundation of all existence (bhava), and then considers the construct of the ninety eight dispositions in the three realms (tri-dhātu) and five categories (pañca-prakāra). Following that, the work further elucidates “being latent by way of apprehended objects” (ālaṃbanato’nuśerate) and “being latent by way of their association with the mind possessing dispositions (saṃprayogato’nuśerate).” That being said, the Sarvāstivādin’s theory on afflictions is thus seen as established in their main threads of teaching; in other words the two principles of “the actual existence of the three times” and “the concomitancy between the mind and the mental factors.”
Finally, there is a discussion of the “elimination of self-nature (svabhāva-prahāṇa),” “the elimination of apprehended objects (ālamban-prahāṇa),” the four causes leading to destruction of delusion, thoughts, and logics in Vasubandhu’s “elimination of self nature,” and Saṃghabhadra’s exposition on “destruction of delusion through cutting through apprehended objects.” It is seen that “to have dissociation means to have destroyed delusion,” but “to have destroyed delusion does not necessarily mean to have dissociation.” “Elimination” is the gain (prāpti) achieved by having dissociated from afflictions (elimination of self-nature). “Dissociation” on the other hand is to cut off karmic afflictions for objects (or “bonds by way of association with the mind,” and “bonds by way of their having perceptual objects”).
As for destruction of delusion, Vasubandhu upholds the position of “elimination,” as in the “removing association with afflictions” whereas Saṃghabhadra upholds the position of “disallowing the arising of afflictions.” As far as the Sarvāstivādins are concerned, “removing association with afflictions” is the means, and is the basic position and universal principle for the destruction of delusion. As for accomplishing the gain of dissociation, which is to disallow the arising of afflictions, it is the end of the means, the ultimate objective for destroying delusions.
kleśa, afflictions; anuśaya, dispositions; svabhāva-prahāṇa, elimination of the self-nature; ālambana-prahāṇa, elimination of the perceptual objects; sānuśaya-citta, mind having dispositions; saṃprayogato ’nuśerate, being latent by way of their association with the sānuśaya-citta; ālaṃbanato ’nuśerate, being latent by way of their having perceptual objects